Working as a nurse often involves more physical lifting of heavy loads than most people realize. This, in turn, leads to more incidents of work-related injury. According to a recent news feature from Business Insurance, nurses routinely suffer from injuries while lifting patients, even though all hospitals provide lifting aids.
Recent study data from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) shows nurses and nursing assistants suffered from more musculoskeletal injuries than many other occupations. The actual numbers depict a rate of nearly 209 lifting injuries per 10,000 full-time workers. This is a significant rate when we consider that, in an average of all industries, there is a rate of around 36 musculoskeletal injuries per 10,000 full-time employees.
Most of these injuries to the nurses and healthcare workers happen when they are attempting to lift or physically move a patient. To help make things easier at hospitals around the country, regulations require a variety of different types of patient lifting systems. This includes state-of-the-art hoists, full-body sling lifts, and overhead lifting systems to help lift patients who are confined to a hospital bed and unable to sit up without help. There is also a great deal of lifting when transporting patients from one bed to another. To help minimize this, they are now using hospital beds as movable gurneys whenever possible. In some hospitals, patient beds are even being used in place of traditional operating tables.
Despite these mechanical devices, many nurses still have to lift patients manually, since that is how they were taught to lift patients in nursing school, and manual lifts are very much a part of their workplace culture. Another reason we are seeing more lifting injuries for nurses is because as Americans are becoming heavier, nurses have more weight to lift, and this is causing injuries even when using best lifting practices.
As our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, if employers took the time to properly train workers on the new lifting systems and make a better effort to encourage and require their use, this might lead to significantly less workplace injuries. However, until that happens, employees are going to do what they have always been doing, and this is usually what most supervisors expect of their employees.
One nurse interviewed for the article said she is from an older generation of nurses who were trained as part of the once heavily taught “lifting brigade” series of techniques that emphasized proper form for manual lifting of patients. She said nursing schools today teach students to rely upon mechanical lifting devices, and they are coming into the job ready to practice those skills. However, she believes the older generation will be harder to change, and those are often the nurses most at risk for an on-the-job injury.
It should be noted, even with the new lifting aids in place, only an estimated 25 percent of hospitals have properly functioning devices and a workforce properly trained to use them.
If you have been injured at work in Asheville, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Nurses struggle with injuries despite lifting aids, May 24, 2015, Business Insurance
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Shubert v. Macy’s West, Inc. – Failure to Adhere to Care Plan, March 19, 2015, Asheville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog